First Time in the US: Gulf Photo Plus is Coming to Seattle.

Orbis: First Look / Ray Flash Comparison

Just received one of the first Orbis ring flash adapters to make into this part of the world. Since I will not have time to shoot with it for a couple of weeks I am putting up a quick unboxing vid (and Ray Flash comparison) video for those of you thinking about taking the plunge.

(If you are watching this via RSS or Email feed, you may have to click through on the title of this post to watch the vids.)

My schedule is such that I will not get to really work with it until after Thanksgiving, which has me feeling like the kid in A Christmas Story pining after the Red Rider BB gun. Argh.

Oh well. After the jump, an additional (Orbis-produced) video.

From the "Episode 001" title on the Orbis video, it looks as if they are going to be uploading more stuff (tutorials?) in the future, too. Glad to see it.


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Blogger steveshewey said...

When you're pulling out the instruction card I like how you oh so subtly say "Aim at subject."

In a video game I play, it gives little facts about war and warfare when you die during the game. On one little note it says that on a US Army grenade launcher, instructions are printed on the gun itself, "Aim towards enemy."

That kind of reminded me of the same thing, and I found it hilarious.

November 21, 2008 1:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you just say..Stink Cord..?
Hehe Couldn't help it, DH..

Thanks Again for a wonderful post, Can't wait to see the results..
Cheers for the effort

November 21, 2008 3:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having to keep one hand on the Orbis whilst on camera looks fidly and I'm worried for us weak wristed 1d/d3 owners.

November 21, 2008 3:12 AM  
Blogger Robert Grubba said...

My note to the second video, the model was really pretty... but the photographs were nothing special IMO, just plain.

November 21, 2008 7:26 AM  
Anonymous Sander said...

Looks good, and probably works nice! but I think it's way too expensive for just a piece of plastic.

November 21, 2008 7:29 AM  
Anonymous Sasa Pahic Szabo said...

i hate the fact that you have to use both hands for shooting , whilst only one is supporting the camera.

guess i bracket must be made then

November 21, 2008 7:30 AM  
Anonymous Chris L. said...

The larger size of the Orbis, as well as the ability to use a wide range of flashes, and possibly the use of focus assist, seem to be benefits over the Ray Flash.

I use zooms a lot, usually a 17-55mm or 28-70mm Nikkor (and have used both with the Ray Flash). How do I zoom real-time while holding on to this thing?

Also, how much light is lost through the Orbis? The Orbis website doesn't answer this question, while Ray Flash claims 1 stop (and field reports seem to indicate 3 stops).

I have a Ray Flash and it's good, not perfect. The Orbis seems to have some advantages, but also seems to require three hands to operate. I look forward to informed reviews.

November 21, 2008 8:03 AM  
Anonymous hivewasp said...

Err... was that second video a tutorial ? What did it teach ? :D Ah yes that you can dress in white and lay on the floor without getting too dirty... and the topic of tutorial 2 is how to mount the flash on the orbis?

Well, other than the tutorial, it looks like the Orbis avoids the flash AF assist issues you get with the Rayflash design, but you need more gear - bracket / ttl sync, ... I think i still prefer the rayflash design, I don't think the pictures will be very different either way. And for the price difference, if you're working in a studio I think the ABR800 is still a much better choice

November 21, 2008 8:28 AM  
Blogger Dean said...

I just don't get it. Why is this "ring flash" you keep talking about? This is the first time I am hearing about it. Maybe someone should try some DIY projects on this and then start a Flickr thread on how they built it.

Has anyone else heard of this "ring flash"?

Seriously, I wish I could afford one of these David. I guess I am stuck with my cardboard and plastic bowl.

November 21, 2008 8:36 AM  
Blogger -MiKe- said...

Camo Yellow! YES!

You have NO idea how many times I have been stuck in those pesky ALL YELLOW environments, and thought "GOD why can't I find any CAMO for this place, the yellow bride has been staring at me the WHOLE time."

I am for want NO MORE! Excelent!

Good un-boxing though. I want...

November 21, 2008 9:06 AM  
Anonymous Seshu said...

Nice intro David. I ordered the Orbis and am looking forward to playing with it when it comes in. I wonder how much longer I have to wait!

November 21, 2008 10:05 AM  
Anonymous D. Knisely said...

David -- how do you convert G9 videos from the M-JPEG format into something reasonable (MP4, etc.)? I've only been able to find some awkward and painful tools to do the conversion.

November 21, 2008 10:08 AM  
Anonymous Bruce Philpott said...

It must be difficult to change focal length (zoom) or to override auto focus with the Orbis, since you've gotta hold the flash with your non-shutter release hand. I've been using the RayFlash and the only fault I can find with it is the price tag. ETTL works, multi-flash is wonderful with it, and it's "self-supporting." BTW, it came with shims so I can use my original 580EX's (not II) with it with both my 5D and 20D. I'm very happy with that purchase.

November 21, 2008 11:35 AM  
Anonymous Fotografo said...

It seems a little bit complex in use.

November 21, 2008 12:08 PM  
Anonymous DanB said...

Mine is on order so I'm hoping the expert Strobist DIYers out there will devise a bracket for the Orbis in the near future. That's my only concern about it at present - the 3 hands thing.

Looking forward to your ring flash show down.

p.s. David, maybe try vimeo for video hosting - much better quality than youtube and navigation disappears when your cursor moves away. Like the Phase one vid from Drew Gardner. Just my preference really.

November 21, 2008 12:40 PM  
Anonymous Jonathan Histed said...

When talking about making a bracket to hold it; one thought I've had is to put a magic arm coming out from a camera adaptor; attached to the camera, with an umbrella adaptor on the other end of it, to hold the flash and ring.

I did something similar to this recently to take pictures with my Panasonic Lumix LX2 through a microscope; to align the eyepieces in the absence of specific expensive adaptors; and it worked a treat (using a magic clamp rather than a brolly adaptor). It is easy to forget one might have grip equipment "in the trunk" which actually allows a passable solution, without having to resort to fashioning a DIY "Franken-daptor" bracket, if you don't want to use three limbs. If anyone has such a kit of parts to try, it would be interesting to find out if that works out ok?

November 21, 2008 1:16 PM  
Blogger budrowilson said...

Considering that I don't actually own the Strobist DVD set (it's on my list, I just haven't purchased it yet), I believe this is the first time I've actually heard David Hobby's voice. For some reason, I was a bit surprised that he didn't sound like the voice of God in Monty Python and the Holy Grail (at least, that's how I always imagined him sounding in my head).

November 21, 2008 1:50 PM  
Blogger apolinar fonseca said...

This isn't lighting related but I've read on this blog that you like drinking Mountain Dew. Well, here's a DIY project you can do with all of your empty cans.

November 21, 2008 2:02 PM  
Anonymous Alan Lapp said...

Hello David, thanks for the unveiling.

Throwing a softball here: does the Orbis have a 1/4-20 insert (i.e. the same diameter & pitch as the tripod mount on the base of a camera) in the body of the unit?

That would make a LOT of sense, and a DIY'er could easily make a satisfactory bracket by bending some 3/16" aluminum & drilling some holes to suit their equipment. All of that is available at the Strobists favorite store, Home Depot.

Thanks for all you do.

November 21, 2008 3:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe a little gaffer tape would be appropriate.

That's the "insurance" I use on my Rayflash

November 21, 2008 3:12 PM  
Blogger Vincent said...

It does the exact same thing as my 7 $ DIY ringflash. Except, I don't have to support that with my left hand.]DIY ringflash

November 21, 2008 4:38 PM  
Anonymous JohnF said...

Hmmm... I'm disappointed. I really like the more realistic price of the Orbis, as well as the thickness, which should give, as Dave says, a softer light. But I definitely do NOT like the fact that you have to hold it. Why couldn't they have been more like RayFlash. This would be particularly annoying in the beginning of a shoot, when you're playing with various settings after every shot. Not to mention a little loss of camera steadiness when you're reaching the lower limits for handheld shutter speeds.

I hope the Strobist readership, or Orbis themself, can come up with a more elegant solution.

Oh, did I mention that I love Strobist? :-)

November 21, 2008 8:30 PM  
Anonymous Reid said...

David, can you please run a comparison with a light meter to see how effective the Orbis is compared to the Ray Flash? I'd love to have that tech data the manufacturers are so loathe to share.

Also, regarding the zoom question, it seems like you could make a shim or something to snug the inside of the Orbis up against the zoom ring on your lens and be able to zoom in and out by twisting the Orbis. Yeah, it would have to be a different size for each lens (or a flexible plastic piece like inside the Orbis), but wouldn't that solve the problem?

Can't wait to hear more from about this product and see how it develops!

November 21, 2008 8:33 PM  
Anonymous Kai said...

I second what Robert Grubba says. The photos on the video are really plain. IMO

November 21, 2008 11:47 PM  
Blogger jonas said...


I think it will work by just mount a umbrella swivel abapter under your camera in the tripod 1/4 screw hole?

November 22, 2008 3:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Strobist Readers,

Just wanted to say that the movie "Under Fire" by Nick Nolte is on Showtime this month. Sorry if I post this here. I couldn't figureout a better way to post this other than on the most recent post by Dave.

November 22, 2008 5:02 PM  
Blogger Ewen Cafe said...

I was lucky enough to get a loan version of the Orbis from James here in New Zealand. I really liked it and will definately be ordering one.

It took me about 5 minutes to get used to holding the Orbis + strobe in one hand and camera in the other, but as I've used a bare strobe left-handed before it was no biggie.. that said it's easier without a cord if you don't need TTL metering. I also set the combo up on a lightstand which worked fine, but would not recommend trying to tilt the flash as there would be too mach weight on the head of the strobe to support it. Vertically is fine.

I have not tried the Rayflash so I'm keen to see DH's review of them both

November 22, 2008 9:04 PM  
Anonymous Kurt said...

I really like the size and the fact that gelling remains easy to do, so I have ordered one. If you read through the FAQs on the Orbis site, it states they will be releasing a camera mountable fitting in early 2009. Thanks for all your work.

Check under: Does the orbis™ fit to my camera?

November 23, 2008 3:34 PM  
Blogger ( for portfolio) said...

I don't know why people are moaning about the whole 'you need to hold it thing' ??? generally all pro ring flashes have to be held! (use primes, they're better any way ;-)
It looks amazing for the price and could really help the poorer photographer achieve the ring flah results. I'm ordering one asap.
Thanks for the nice video, gotta be worth it just for the camo yellow. :-)

November 23, 2008 8:14 PM  
Anonymous PatB said...

Thanks for the great video doing direct comparison between the two ring flash options.

I've discussed this with several friends that preferred the Ray Flash option to mount to flashgun in hot shoe. However I thought the Orbis had a much larger area for dissipating the light, which your video demonstrated.

I'm a little bit concerned about the comment to remove the lens hood with the Pro lenses though as this would make it very inconvenient for shooting weddings.

The orbis construction looks great and able to support the weight of the lens, which is essential if using it hand-held.

Weighing up the pros & cons I think the Orbis gets my vote.

November 25, 2008 5:22 AM  
Blogger john's stuff said...

If the orbis ring flash can be mounted to a flash unit,I don't understand why the combined unit cannot be simply mounted in the camera's hot shoe?This is not explained on the web site or in the various videos. Thank you, John

November 25, 2008 7:06 AM  
Anonymous Mark Sirota said...

If the inside diameter of the ring flash is somewhere close to the outside diameter of the lens hood, perhaps a hood can be modified to mount to and support the ring flash...

November 25, 2008 5:16 PM  
Blogger WeatherVane said...

Personally, I've just took the plunge and pre-ordered. I have a good feeling about his tool....Rayflash seems like the first step in an evolutionary process. I'm sure the second hasn't iron out ALL the kinks, but I feel like the quality of light, and control of light loss is going to be a step up. Handholding will be annoying at first, but how many of you use a TTL corded speedlight handheld, off camera in a pinch? I'm sure it'll be easy to get used to, beside it seems like you can rest the lens on the inner circle of the flash for extra support.

I'll definitely be figuring out a bracket if it seems feasible, until they release theirs, but to get ring quality light for under $200, in a stand alone modifier that weighs less than a couple pounds is a pretty good deal, I think. Besides you can return it in 14 days if you don't like it. Where's the risk?

November 25, 2008 9:22 PM  
Blogger The Lardizabal Family said...

This may sound stupid and out of topic but can you achieve the same effect with a white shoot thru by pulling the umbrella stem closer to the cover making a narrower light source?

All of my strobes are 285HV so my only route is the DIY ring flash.

So if I could get away with the umbrella then I might not need to build one thus the stupid question.

November 28, 2008 11:49 PM  
Blogger Marius Lardizabal - Kayumangi said...

This may sound stupid and out of topic but can you achieve the same effect with a white shoot thru by pulling the umbrella stem closer to the cover making a narrower light source?

All of my strobes are 285HV so my only route is the DIY ring flash.

So if I could get away with the umbrella then I might not need to build one thus the stupid question.

November 28, 2008 11:54 PM  
Anonymous Matt Moore said...

My mini-review and 30 minute Orbis mount :

December 06, 2008 12:52 AM  
Anonymous Matt Moore said...

My mini-review and 30 minute Orbis mount :

December 06, 2008 12:53 AM  
Blogger J said...

I hold the Orbis upside down. That keeps the flash in. The strap hangs from my wrist and if dropped, the orbis stays upside down. See photo on

December 08, 2008 6:59 PM  
Blogger Alexander said...

I have a canon 5D mark II and Nikon SB800 flash.
Has anyone used this config. with Ray Flash? If so, which model of Ray Flash works best?

i emailed ray flash company but they sort of laughed on my setup (i guess not knowing of OCF) and couldn't comment :(

October 11, 2010 1:42 PM  

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